A handmade sign is all that remains Monday of Black Lives Matter signs on Pleasant Street in Hallowell. Several BLM signs disappeared from lawns, according to residents. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal file

HALLOWELL — Police in Hallowell said political signs for Democratic candidates were also targeted as part of a string of thefts early Monday, adding to the tally of signs damaged or stolen that included several for the Black Lives Matter movement.

Meanwhile, another Hallowell resident said the thefts are affecting those who publicly support Republican candidates, illustrating the political divide locally and across the country.

Eight to 10 Black Lives Matter signs were reported stolen early Monday in the area of Pleasant and Page streets.

Chief Scott MacMaster of the Hallowell Police Department said Thursday the number of targeted BLM signs had grown to 15, and three political signs had also been stolen or damaged.

The first thefts were reported at about 7 a.m. Monday. Surveillance footage from a home security system showed the silhouette of a person near one of the houses where a sign had been damaged at about 2:30 a.m., leading police to believe all of the incidents happened at about that time.

MacMaster said no one had been charged as of Thursday in connection with the thefts or damage, but police have interviewed a suspect. MacMaster said a man was photographed taking a sign bearing a Martin Luther King Jr. quote from a property on Pleasant Street after the initial thefts. MacMaster said police were able to make contact with the man later in the day, but did not charge him.

MacMaster said police were unable to link the man to others thefts or damage.

“All we’ve got is some circumstantial evidence,” he said.

MacMaster said his officers are investigating the suspect’s possible connection to all of the thefts, which could result in his receiving a summons for the full value of the thefts, rather than just for one.

MacMaster said political signs for Democratic candidates Sarah Gideon, Shenna Bellows and Joe Biden were stolen or damaged. These offenses are civil violations that carry a $250 fine, which is different than the theft of Black Lives Matter signs, which are not categorized political.

MacMaster said Monday the theft of a BLM sign would be considered a misdemeanor because each sign has a value of about $20 and they are personal property, distinguishing them from political signs. If the cumulative value of stolen signs were to reach $1,000, he said, the theft could be prosecuted as a felony.

Alan Stearns, a Pleasant Street resident, said Tuesday that signs were stolen or damaged around Lincoln Street, Winthrop Street and Getchell Lane, a short, dead-end street off Pleasant Street.

The BLM signs, which were designed by Hallowell artist Chris Cart, feature a drawing of George Floyd and the words “Black Lives Matter.”

Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, died while in police custody May 25 when Derek Chauvin, then a Minneapolis police officer, kneeled on the back of Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes.

Floyd’s death sparked a resurgence in the Black Lives Matter movement, which has led to large protests in Maine and across the country. Those protests, aimed at ending systemic racism, continue in many American cities.

Pat Truman, who lives on Second Street, near Lincoln Street, said a sign supporting Trump and Vice President Mike Pence has been stolen from her property twice in the past four weeks. Truman said she saw news that Black Lives Matter signs were stolen in the area of Pleasant Street and could “sympathize” with the nearby residents.

Truman, 83, said she reported the theft of her sign to police, but realized the culprit may never be caught.

“Unless they see them take it, there’s nothing they can do,” she said, “and I understand that.”

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